E-cigarettes, also known as vapes, are one of the more recent stop smoking aids to become available and they can help you quit smoking for good.
An estimated 3.2 million adults in Great Britain use an e-cigarette. They can be particularly effective as a stop smoking aid when combined with expert face-to-face support from a local Stop Smoking Service.
If you are considering using an e-cigarette, specialist vape shops can offer help and advice on selecting the right type for you
What are e-cigarettes / vapes?
Whatever you know them as, an e-cigarette, e-cig or vape, they are devices that allow you to inhale nicotine in a vapour rather than in the tobacco smoke you would inhale from cigarettes. Using an e-cigarette is known as vaping.
How does vaping work?
E-cigarettes heat a solution, called e-liquid, which typically contains nicotine, propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerine, and flavourings. They do not contain tobacco or produce tar or carbon monoxide – 2 of the most damaging constituents in tobacco smoke, which you inhale from cigarettes.
Are e-cigarettes / vapes safer than cigarettes?
E-cigarettes are not completely risk-free, but experts estimate that vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking cigarettes. E-cigarette vapour contains some potentially harmful chemicals also found in tobacco smoke, but at much lower levels.
Many people think nicotine is very harmful to health. In fact, although it is addictive, nicotine is relatively harmless: it's the thousands of other chemicals in tobacco smoke that cause almost all the harm from smoking.
You can find out more about e-cigarettes and find answers to questions – including safety for users and bystanders, using e-cigarettes while pregnant – and how e-cigarettes are regulated in the UK – on Smokefree.
What are the different types of e-cigarette?
- Cigalikes look similar to tobacco cigarettes, tend to have small batteries and can be disposable or rechargeable.
- Vape pens are shaped like a pen or small tube and have a tank to store e-liquid and replaceable coils. The batteries tend to last longer than cigalike batteries and are rechargeable.
- Pod systems are compact rechargeable devices, often shaped like a USB stick or a pebble, and use pre-filled or refillable e-liquid pods. They are simple to use and easy to maintain.
- Mods come in a range of shapes and sizes but are generally the largest e-cigarette devices. They have a refillable tank, longer-lasting rechargeable batteries and variable power.
How do I decide which type is right for me?
For many people, the choice will be based on personal preference. Some types of device deliver nicotine more quickly and effectively than others, and are likely to give you a better chance of quitting smoking.
If you're a heavier smoker, vape pens, pod systems and mods are the best to try. But if you're a light smoker, a cigalike could work for you too. As e-liquids are available with different nicotine strengths, you'll need to choose the right one to satisfy your needs.
If you'd like help choosing the right e-cigarette and liquid, a specialist vape shop can give you lots of advice.
Can I get e-cigarettes from my GP?
E-cigarettes aren't currently available from the NHS on prescription, so you can't get one from your GP. You can buy them from specialist vape shops, some pharmacies and other retailers or on the internet.
Will they really help me quit smoking?
Thousands of people in England have already stopped smoking with the help of an e-cigarette. Plus, those who combine an e-cigarette with help from their local Stop Smoking Service have a high chance of success. In 2018-19, two-thirds of smokers who did so managed to stop smoking.
E-cigarettes can help you manage your nicotine cravings. To get the most out of it, make sure you're using it as much as you need to and with the right strength of nicotine in your e-liquid. You won't get the full benefit from vaping unless you stop smoking cigarettes completely.
If you have any more questions about quitting smoking with an e-cigarette, your local Stop Smoking Service or specialist vape shop will be able to offer help and advice.